218 Years of Complaining

Trash, noise, and dead animals: 'Museum of Complaints' reveals what New Yorkers have been griping about since 1751

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For better or worse, the city's 311 Help Line has largely done away with a particular genre of artifact: The letter of complaint.

But from 1751 to 1969, there was no 311. And that's the timeframe from which Matthew Bakkom culled his compilation of 132 letters for New York City Museum of Complaint, a tome of screeds that disgruntled, dissatisfied New Yorkers sent to the office of the Mayor. (We spotted this fantastic-sounding book in Manhattan User's Guide.)

So what's bothered New Yorkers between the mid-18th century and Woodstock? What, exactly, was worth putting quill to paper for? According to the publisher blurb, people complained about everything from "dead animals in the street" and "civil rights, adventuresses, bad luck, and broken hearts," to "battles with drycleaners, police officers, pushcart peddlers and hooligans." Oh, and noise. That's been going on for a while.

Pre-order the book at Amazon (it comes out April 1.)

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